Aquaponic Gardening

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Can a system be cost beneficial for a family of 5?

Hi!  I am completely new to this site, but am loving everything I see so far.  I have a super tight budget (I need to make this cost beneficial ASAP) - but I can't find any plans online that would suggest that this would be a financially beneficial decision for our family.

 

1) I live in a town home with very little outside room - are there any systems that would work better for indoor use?  Does it produce a high enough moisture content to potentially grow mold?

 

2) Where would I find seeds to begin planting?

 

3) How many square feet of space will I need to effectively feed our family?

 

4) We live in CO, so outdoor use would probably not work as well for nearly half of the year - how do you all get around the variances in temperature?

 

5)  I know, super crazy question, but is there any place (or do you know of anybody) that may sell used systems?

 

I apologize if this post is all over,  but I'm so excited for the possibility of hopefully using this to feed our family.

 

Thank you for your help!

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The barrel ponics manual is a good first DIY system primer even if you don't build that exact system.

http://www.aquaponiclynx.com/  Half way down the page there is a picture and a link for the barrel ponics manual.  I estimated that one could build such a system for under $300 in an outdoor situation.  Lighting for indoor use will really change the situation. 

 

Do you have a really sunny window?

 

There are several people on here who do aquarium scale aquaponics.

 

Do lots of reading and learning.  If you learn a fair bit you can build a custom system to work in your specific situation and probably do it fairly cheap if you are kinda handy.  However, trying to do such without knowing what you are getting into can be more challenging.

 

If your finances are such that you have to buy the cheapest foods possible, it will be really difficult to say that aquaponics will save you money since the quality of the food from your own garden is likely to be far more nutritious than the cheapest foods that have traveled 1500 miles to get to you at the grocery store.

 

However, being in CO I expect you can find lots of people out there into aquaponics and I expect you could visit some of the other aquaponics systems out there to help you get ideas.

 

1)yes an indoor aquaponics system can elevate the moisture content in the air inside a home, in winter that might be a good thing, just don't run the humidifier.  Here in FL, we run a dehumidifier since it is normally humid here.

 

2) seeds are easy.  Most any hardware store, garden center and even some grocery stores will carry veggie seeds.  You don't need special seeds to get started in aquaponics.

 

3)to feed a family of 5, well how much of your food are you planning to get from the aquaponics?  Are you just talking providing salad for a family of 5 or are you talking trying to provide all the food?  The biggest issue here is learning to eat what you grow, make the best use of what you grow, and learning to grow what you will need most.

 

4)Sylvia sells a system that can be moved indoors for the winter and back out to the patio for the summer.  I'm in Florida and I just use fish that will survive the temperature sings and my systems are right outdoors.

 

5)I don't know about used systems but there are some kit systems out there, however to save money and make the most out of the space you have, you probably want to learn enough to design your own system.

TCLynx said:

If your finances are such that you have to buy the cheapest foods possible, it will be really difficult to say that aquaponics will save you money since the quality of the food from your own garden is likely to be far more nutritious than the cheapest foods that have traveled 1500 miles to get to you at the grocery store.

Right now, we only eat organic produce, which can be especially expensive.  So, no, we don't eat the cheapest, but am wondering if growing our own 'organic' produce would help with the food budget.

 

However, being in CO I expect you can find lots of people out there into aquaponics and I expect you could visit some of the other aquaponics systems out there to help you get ideas.

I only have one place here locally that is running an aquaponics facility - we are going to visit soon.


 

3)to feed a family of 5, well how much of your food are you planning to get from the aquaponics?  Are you just talking providing salad for a family of 5 or are you talking trying to provide all the food?  The biggest issue here is learning to eat what you grow, make the best use of what you grow, and learning to grow what you will need most.

We typically eat more vegetables than other food - so we would specifically plant only what we eat, but are unsure of how many square feet that would take to have a consistent food supply.


4)Sylvia sells a system that can be moved indoors for the winter and back out to the patio for the summer.  I'm in Florida and I just use fish that will survive the temperature sings and my systems are right outdoors.

I'll have to check into this one.

5)I don't know about used systems but there are some kit systems out there, however to save money and make the most out of the space you have, you probably want to learn enough to design your own system.

Thank you for your help!

What is your goal?

Feed your family 100%? 50%?

Budget?

Space?

Indoor or Outdoor?

If you are already eating organic, you can save some money by growing some of your own.  However doing it indoors may really cut into the savings if you have to spend lots on electricity for lighting.  Hopefully you have a really sunny window in the winter.

 

If doing this indoors, I don't expect you to feed a family of 5 100% on the produce and still live in the house.  Lets face it, if anyone in the family eats bread and you are expecting to grow the grain in the AP system, you will need more than 12 square feet.  One needs to get really specific about exactly what you are growing and how much you need to really know how much square footage is needed.  It might help to know what your most desired items are and how much you want to help figure out how much space you need to grow those items. 


Katee said:

Right now, we only eat organic produce, which can be especially expensive.  So, no, we don't eat the cheapest, but am wondering if growing our own 'organic' produce would help with the food budget.

 

 

We typically eat more vegetables than other food - so we would specifically plant only what we eat, but are unsure of how many square feet that would take to have a consistent food supply.

You basically would need to list out your monthly produce use and then look at how long it takes to produce that ammount of produce and how big of an area the specific crops need to flourish. It could easily be done down to the pounds of fish and floorspace you would need but you would have to get a little of that information together.

Hello Katee,

 

Thank you for joining this wonderful Community.

In order to assist your learning and understanding of Aquaponics, I strongly suggest that you join the group "Aquaponics for Beginners" and read some FAQ there. You should find wonderful knowledge to help you and be in a position to answer your base questions.

 

God bless,

Hi Katee,

Have you considered growing lots of sprouts?   Low investment, low light and space, very nutricious, high productivity, low learning curve and no fish needed.

 

Homefire

 

 

Does anyone know if there is a calendar already in place to say how long eat plant takes until harvest time?

Ryan said:
You basically would need to list out your monthly produce use and then look at how long it takes to produce that ammount of produce and how big of an area the specific crops need to flourish. It could easily be done down to the pounds of fish and floorspace you would need but you would have to get a little of that information together.

Many seed catalogs will list days to bloom or days to harvest for different plants.  Of course this is usually under ideal conditions so it would take longer under less than ideal conditions.

 

I just read an article in Mother Earth News about how it is possible to grow $700 worth of food in 100 square feet of growing space in a season.  The bed they used was 5' by 20' and they compared to high quality organic foods in the markets to get the prices for their figures.

I've put together plans for a module that takes up just 3' x 5' that doesn't cost much. A recent video is over at my blog - 3x5aquaponics.blogspot.com. My early breakout of costs is in my post explaining why I call it 3x5 Aquaponics.

 

It's about $300 for the basic system (it cost me less than the amount I originally estimated) - add lights ($150) and fish, and you're good to go. I used gravel, $10 for 500 pounds. I got my seeds locally, and I've seen seeds available to sell again, like at Home Depot.

 

I haven't tried doing microgreens yet, but that may be a way to help produce food short term, while waiting for the rest of everything to mature. I'd love it if someone could post how one does microgreens with an aquaponics system - I'm coming up with ideas, but would prefer to stand on the shoulders of giants, experience-wise.

Hi Katee.  With regard to the humidity indoors, yes there will be humidity, but it won't be bad if you don't heat the water beyond the temp it naturally moves to with the ambient temperature of the room.  So select your fish accordingly.  I keep my tilapia at about 70 during the winter, so it isn't a problem.  One of our customers in Boulder put his system on an unheated sun porch and it became a rainforest. As soon as he put a space heater near the system the problem corrected itself.

 

If you are in the Boulder area let me know and you can come visit and see my backyard greenhouse.

I actually have tried this - and we had a huge infestation of fruit flies......perhaps I'm doing it wrong.

Homefire said:

Hi Katee,

Have you considered growing lots of sprouts?   Low investment, low light and space, very nutricious, high productivity, low learning curve and no fish needed.

 

Homefire

 

 

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